More than ever, senior citizens need to reach the equity in their home. Many have lost their nest egg in the stock market. Others never properly planned for their later years. Still others are facing emergency situations they never imagined. Seniors are living longer. The most explosive growth in the senior population is in the 85 and over category. This article will describe how a reverse mortgage literally brought the lives of our senior citizen clients back from the brink. This article will also discuss why the familiar options to reverse mortgages generally don’t work.

I will introduce you to Veronica, Edward, Ellen & Mathew. I will describe the state of their thinking, as well as their situation prior to applying for a reverse mortgage. Then I will describe their situation after they closed on a reverse mortgage. The one thing that will jump out at you is the degree that their lives changed after they closed upon their reverse mortgage. Names have been altered. These individuals represent a composite of life situations our clients actually faced.

Veronica lives in a big home on the north shore of Long Island. She is well into her eighties. She is sharp. I certainly wouldn’t want to test my memory against hers. Veronica had a substantial mortgage on her property for someone her age. She no longer wanted to struggle to make that monthly mortgage payment. She worked full time to insure that these payments could be made. She constantly worried about money. When Veronica heard about reverse mortgages, she jumped at the chance never to have a mortgage payment as long as she lived. Her $160,000 mortgage was paid off and she walked away with an additional $100,000 in reverse mortgage proceeds. Now she spends her days relaxing and thinking about her wonderful family and her wonderful life.

Edward came to see me at a time in his life when everything seemed to be going wrong. He had judgments against him, tax liens against the house. The home was in total disrepair. It turned out that the house needed $32,000 in fix up costs. The owners of the tax liens were about to commence foreclosure proceedings. Edward desperately wanted to remain in his home. His credit was quite bad. He certainly couldn’t qualify for a traditional loan. A reverse mortgage swept away the financial dust that accumulated over the years. His family was not excited about the idea at first. Now they know it was the right thing to do. Edward goes to work each day with a clear head and a song in his heart.

Ellen lost some money in the market. She wasn’t panicking when we saw her. She was fortunate, in that she had substantial assets. Yet she wanted to accomplish her financial plan without touching those assets. She accomplished a lot with her reverse mortgage. She gifted money to her adult children, created a college fund (529 plans) for her three grandchildren, and plans to take a few vacations she has continuously put off.

Mathew was in remission when we first met him. His wife Mary was recovering from recent surgery. They wanted to do a reverse mortgage primarily as a security measure. They wanted to know that if they needed home care, they could afford it. A reverse mortgage brought them that peace of mind.

These may be stories to the reader, but represent actual life situations for the people involved. A reverse mortgage can solve many financial problems. Seniors know that money is not the most important thing. They also know that lack of money affects everything that is important.

Well meaning advisors, family and friends will suggest that this equity can be reached when the home is sold or when a traditional loan is taken out against the property.

Statistics show that seniors do not want to move. Their goal is to stay in the environment that contains so much of their personal & family history. They want to live in an area that is familiar. Often the house is the center of the story of their life. Typically a sale becomes financially & emotionally impractical.

Many seniors, on the other hand can not qualify for a loan. They do not have the income and/or the assets and/or the credit to be approved for a traditional mortgage. While some seniors may in fact be able to qualify for a traditional loan, they do not want the “headache” or the responsibility of paying it back. Making those monthly payments is something they can do without.

When a senior obtains a reverse mortgage, a senior is getting a loan that does not require monthly loan payments, nor income, asset or credit approval, nor does it have to be repaid by a particular fix date. Again, as long as the senior is using the property as their primary residence, they can live happily ever after. This, by the way is what they want to achieve.

Dennis Haber


  • Dennis Haber is an authority on reverse mortgages. His articles on the topic have been published in various national and local periodicals, including, Senior Market Advisor, Nassau Lawyer, New York Mortgage Press and Elder Law Attorney a publication of the Elder Law committee of the New York State Bar Association.. He has just released a new book, Piggy Bank Your Home For A Brighter Today & Tomorrow that explains reverse mortgage concepts, using pictures. It is revolutionizing how families view reverse mortgages. It is the first book of its kind that explains reverse mortgages using pictures.

    He is an attorney and a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) who devotes his time to changing the lives of senior citizens by getting them happily involved with their reverse mortgage. His thorough understanding of this complex topic will benefit you and your family.

    Over the years Dennis has demonstrated his uncanny ability to take a complicated topic and make it easy to understand. He is the author of The Haber Way, an audio CD that explains the do’s and don’ts of getting a mortgage loan, and Playing The Real Estate Game, a fun filled learning experience that combines buyer, seller and anxiety cards with two audio cassette tapes.

    Dennis is a member in good standing of the Nassau County and New York State Bar Associations. He is also available for lectures, seminars, consultations and interviews.